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50-State Survey of Rights-of-Way Laws
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State and Local Rights of Way

Welcome to NTIA’s State and Local Rights-of-Way Resources website.  Our website is designed to provide information about the laws, regulations, policies, and practices that affect state and local management of rights-of-way.  In making this information available, our goal is to foster an exchange of ideas between state and local land managers, communications providers, and other stakeholders in order to improve the management and use of rights-of-way.

Access to rights-of-way -- the conduits, corridors, trenches, tower sites, and other physical passageways that modern communications networks traverse -- is critical for the deployment of broadband services.  Broadband, also known as high-speed Internet access, has the potential to revolutionize commerce, education, healthcare, national security, entertainment, and countless other areas for the American people.  As such, broadband is a key to future economic growth for the communications industry and the economy as a whole.

To promote the build-out of broadband networks, NTIA has been working with a variety of agencies and associations to streamline and simplify rights-of-way processes and procedures at the state and local level. In a related effort at the federal level, we have also formed a Federal Rights-of-Way Working Group to address issues on federally controlled lands.  By stimulating an open dialogue among all of the interested stakeholders, we hope to find common solutions for some of our common rights-of-way challenges.

To assist rights-of-way stakeholders at the state and local level, we have structured this website into three sections.

(1) Compendium of Rights-of-Way Success Stories

Although we have heard many concerns about access to rights-of-way, we also know that many communities across the nation have developed solutions that benefit all stakeholders: state and local governments, the communications industry, and consumers.  In this section of the website, we provide summaries of these solutions or “success stories.”  We have also included contact information for government and industry representatives for each success story, and we encourage interested parties to seek additional information from these representatives.  Although we realize that the solutions described in this section may not be successful everywhere, we believe that they provide useful examples that other communities may want to emulate.  We encourage others to e-mail us their success stories, which we will consider adding to our compendium.

(2) Matrix of Rights-of-Way Laws in all 50 States and the District of Columbia

Rights-of-way statutes often vary greatly from state to state.  To assist rights-of-way stakeholders in better understanding these statutes, we have compiled a matrix of the rights-of-way laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  The matrix provides citations to the relevant statutes, together with descriptions of key statutory provisions relating to jurisdiction, compensation, timelines, nondiscrimination, mediation, and condemnation.  As these statutes change over time, we encourage stakeholders to alert us to the modifications so we can update the matrix accordingly.

(3) Links to Other Rights-of-Way Resources

Many state and local agencies, industry coalitions, and other stakeholders have issued a variety of useful materials regarding rights-of-way.  In this section of the website, we provide links to those materials, including reports, transcripts, guidebooks and other resources for rights-of-way stakeholders.  When new rights-of-way materials are issued, we encourage their authors to notify us so we can add appropriate links on our website.

Through the various resources on this website, we hope to advance the discussion on rights-of-way and to promote the further deployment of broadband services.  Broadband technology has great potential and it is in everyone’s interest to ensure that broadband networks are deployed rapidly and cost-effectively.

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